Student Guide



What is plagiarism?

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Plagiarism is a serious academic offense. According to the online Oxford English Dictionary, plagiarism is defined as:

  • The action or practice of plagiarizing; the wrongful appropriation or purloining, and publication as one's own, of the ideas, or the expression of the ideas (literary, artistic, musical, mechanical, etc.) of another.

Plagiarism also includes:

  • Having a friend write a paper for you or using someone else's as your own.
  • Submitting a paper or assignment for more than one class!
  • Downloading or buying a term paper from the web.


Stated in simpler terms, plagiarism is stealing. Attempting to pass off others' work as if it were your own is fraud and grounds for academic discipline.


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The University of Alberta Libraries have created an excellent guide which defines common terminology associated with plagiarism:

Avoiding Plagiarism

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There are many steps and techniques you can follow in order to avoid plagiarism.

Begin research early

Research required to produce quality papers and assignments takes time. Plan carefully, allowing lots of room for research, preparation and writing to avoid panic situations where plagiarism can easily occur.

Be sure when you are doing research that you also carefully note where you have found your information (e.g. title, author, page(s), year, etc). You will need this for documenting your sources and creating bibliographies for your papers (see next sections for guides). For more information on where to start, consult a research guide or your librarian.

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Incorporate information wisely

The information you find during the research process is used as a framework for developing your ideas and used as background material as you critically analyze your topic through the papers you write.

If you must incorporate others' ideas into a paper or assignment, direct quotes or paraphrasing are two alternatives. In order to avoid too many quotations, paraphrasing is a technique used to express others' ideas into your own words.

  • Place " " marks around any direct quotes used and always document the source.
  • Even if you paraphrase information, you must give credit for others' specific ideas.
  • Information such as dates and facts which are considered common knowledge do not need to be documented.
  • When in doubt about common knowledge it's best to document the source anyway!


Paraphrasing Information - Online Writing Lab, Perdue University

Quoting and Paraphrasing - Writing Center, University Wisconsin-Madison

Acceptable & Unacceptable Paraphrasing - Writing Tutorial Service, Indiana University

Document your sources

At university you constantly learn about other people's ideas. When you use this information for your assignments, it is important to document your sources, often referred to as citing, and give due credit. Citations are formally written references which indicate where you found the information.

Depending on your program or the course you are taking, you may be required to use specific styles of documentation. Check with your professor or instructor on what style they prefer.

Guide to Documentation Styles - Writing Center, University Wisconsin-Madison

Get help

Your professor or instructor can provide you with further assistance. If you need help finding information on a topic or how to document your sources, contact your librarian.

Acadia Librarians

Acadia University Policies

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity demands responsible use of the work of other scholars. It is compromised by academic dishonesty such as cheating and plagiarism. A student who is uncertain whether or not a course of action might constitute cheating or plagiarism should seek in advance the advice of the instructor involved.

  • Cheating is copying or the use of unauthorized aids or the intentional falsification or invention of information in any academic exercise.
  • Plagiarism is the act of presenting the ideas or words of another as one's own. Students are required to acknowledge and document the sources of ideas that they use in their written work.
  • Self plagiarism is also a form of plagiarism. It is the presentation of the same work in more than one course without the permission of the instructors involved.
  • A student who knowingly helps another to commit an act of academic dishonesty is equally guilty.
  • Penalties are levied in relation to the degree of the relevant infraction. They range from requiring the student to re-do the piece of work, through failure on that piece of work, to failure in the course, and to dismissal from the university.

Procedures concerning infractions of academic integrity

  • Faculty members, after informing their director/head and contacting the student involved, shall attempt to determine the personal responsibility of the student and impose penalties where appropriate.
  • The student can appeal the faculty member's decision to the department director/head and, if still not satisfied, to the dean.
  • The student can appeal the dean's decision to the Vice-President Academic who shall inform the student of his/her decision as to the student's personal responsibility and the penalty imposed.
  • A student has the right to appeal the decision of the Vice-President Academic to the Senate Committee on Academic Discipline. Students have the right to have legal counsel when appearing before this committee.
  • Computing Services and the Vaughan Memorial Library publish policies for the use of university computer facilities, both hardware and software and the use of the university library and its resources. Violation of these policies, or other abuse of university computer facilities, will be dealt with in the same manner as other forms of cheating or as a non-academic offence. For the dedicated purpose of inter-institutional loan and document delivery services, patron records may be stored on a remote database. Some violations may also lead to criminal prosecution. It is the students' responsibility to familiarize themselves with the Computing Services policies.

Acadia Student Union Advocacy Service

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The ASU Vice President Academic acts as a Student Advocate in cases of cheating or plagiarism.  Contact Fallis Thompson.


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Plagiarism at Acadia: A Faculty Member's Guide

Other student information sites

Excellent student guides prepared by other Canadian university libraries: